Australian Story: Mar 18

Tonight’s Australian Story chronicles the homecoming of Bhutanese conjoined twins Nima and Dawa following a ground-breaking Australian operation to separate them.

The episode features exclusive vision and interviews as the girls return home to their remote Himalayan nation, including the first moments they reunite with their father and sibling as newly independent individuals.

Nima and Dawa were born joined at the torso. Their future prognosis was bleak and they were showing signs of distress and failing to absorb their food properly. A risky six-hour operation at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital was scheduled last November.

Members of the 35 strong medical and allied health team that treated the girls also give their insights into the challenging operation.

“The worst-case scenario is we go in there and we can’t separate the twins. Or getting a complication from the operation that then threatens or ultimately ends the life of one of the twins,” said paediatric surgeon Dr Joe Crameri.

Moments after learning her daughters’ operation was a success, the girls’ mother Bhumchu Zangmo told Australian Story she was overjoyed.

“After hearing the news that the surgery was successful, I was so happy,” she said. “I was so eager to meet the kids personally.”

Now 20 months old, the girls were the first conjoined twins born in Bhutan in living memory.

Up until their surgery, they had lived in seclusion amid fears they could be considered unlucky in the deeply religious nation.

A team of Australian doctors and the not-for-profit Children First Foundation brought the girls to Australia for their life-saving surgery.

Producer: Kristine Taylor

8pm Monday March 18 on ABC.

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